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A Brief History of our Society

by Wolfgang Viereck (Honorary President)


When, in mid-1990, an international congress of dialectologists was held at the University of Bamberg, Germany,  an enormous interest in this field became evident. About 170 papers were presented there by scholars from more than 20 countries, with four thick volumes of congress proceedings subsequently being published in the first half of the 1990s by the congress President Professor Wolfgang Viereck and his team. It thus seemed quite an appropriate time to discuss the foundation of a society. First steps in that direction were taken in 1990 and 1991 with the publication and distribution of a Bulletin containing the society’s statutes as well as some information on sister associations and congresses.

Some discussions, first in Florence, centered around the name of the society’s journal. Of the three proposals Dialectologica et Geolinguistica, Dialectologia et Geolinguistica and Dialectologista, possibly surrounded by a ‘wheel’ of translations in the main languages, members favoured the second version. The front page of the journal was expertly designed by Dipl. Ing. and architect Gernot Dietel and the first two numbers were printed from camera-ready copy by Lincom Europa, Munich. The printing then went to Italy, namely to Edizioni dell’Orso in Alessandria. Since no. 10/2002 the society’s journal has been printed, at the President’s suggestion, by Mouton De Gruyter in Berlin. From the first issue down to no. 11/ 2003 the computational production of the journal and the Bulletin lay in the expert hands of Mrs. Liesbeth Dietel, secretary at the Chair of English Linguistics and Medieval English Literature at Bamberg University. In the Bulletin of 2003 Professor Viereck expressed his sincere thanks to them as well as to Dr. Birgit Brietz, Prof. Dr. Gabriele Knappe, Dr. Shane Walshe and Mr. Kenneth Wynne for their unfailing support during all these years. Professor Viereck was editor of our journal from no. 1/1993 to no. 11/2003.

The first President of our society was Professor Mario Alinei, Italy, who acted in this capacity until 1997 when Vice-President Professor Wolfgang Viereck was elected his successor. The first congress of our society was held in Budapest, Hungary, in April 1993, organised by Professors Sandor Rót and Jenő Kiss. Due to financial difficulties, no congress proceedings were published. Further congresses followed, namely in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, in 1997 (organised by Professors Jan Berns and Jaap van Marle, who also edited its proceedings), in Lublin, Poland, in 2000 (organised by Professor Stefan Warchoł, who also edited its proceedings), in Riga, Latvia, in 2003 (organised by Professor Agris Timuška, who also edited its proceedings), in Braga, Portugal, in 2006  (organised by Professor Brian Head; no proceedings were published), in Maribor in 2009 (organised by Professor Mihaela Koletnik, who also edited its proceedings), and in 2012 in Vienna (organised by Mag. Eveline Wandl-Vogt and her team). For the Eighth Congress to be held in 2015 an invitation from Famagusta, Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, was accepted.

At our congress in Riga in 2003, some members were elected for a number of positions: Professor Wolfgang Viereck was elected Honorary President, Professor Lars-Erik Edlund (Sweden) became the new president and Professor Graham Shorrocks (Canada) the new editor. Edlund and Shorrocks held  these positions for only a rather short time. Dr. Astrid van Nahl of Bonn University kindly accepted the position as editor. Ever since no. 12/2004 she has devoted much time, energy and money to producing our journal always on time.  Indeed, it is due to her unfailing efforts during the last decade that the society and its journal is well respected. The next elections took place at our congress in Braga in September 2006 when  Professor Martin Haase was elected the society’s president and Dr. Astrid van Nahl the editor of Dialectologia et Geolinguistica; she has been supported by Professor Viereck officially since the Maribor Congress in 2009. Haase stepped down in 2012 when  Professor Maria-Pilar Perea (Spain), editor of the e-journal Dialectología, followed  as president.

During Wolfgang Viereck’s Presidency, our Society received UNESCO recognition and is now a full member of CIPL, the Comité International Permanent des Linguistes. Our journal enjoys an excellent reputation. It has been highly rated on several occasions by the European Science Foundation. Manuscripts are now offered to us and they are peer-reviewed; we no longer have to ask for them as we had in the first years of the journal’s existence. Our volumes could easily be thicker, only financial restrictions do not allow that at present.

To sum up, our society is alive and well. Hopefully it will continue to enjoy the same reputation in future. Only then will it attract more members and officers dedicated to its scholarly aims.